The Connection Between Migraines and Hearing Loss

According to more than 37 million Americans suffer from migraine, a neurological disease characterized by episodes known as migraine attacks.

If you suffer with them, you know what we mean…sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, nausea, throbbing pain, vertigo and vomiting are all typical symptoms..

But how does that correlate to hearing loss?

Specifically, in a portion of people with migraines, tiny hair cells in the cochlea that move in response to incoming sound vibrations and send sound signals to the brain behave too sluggishly. Further, testing shows some migraine sufferers have problems processing sound on the way to the brain.

The problem here is that those tiny hairs require good circulation to function properly, and the hypothesis is that circulation is compromised during a migraine attack.

Those tiny hairs functioning abnormally can lead to them dying completely and lead to permanent hearing loss.

As it turns out, migraines are associated with both tinnitus AND sudden sensorineural hearing loss.

Tinnitus is the medical term for ringing in the ears. It is both annoying and often maddening condition where you hear sounds in one or both ears that aren’t actual external sounds. “The sounds might be ringing, chirping, machine-like, buzzing, hissing or roaring that aren’t coming from the environment, but originate from within the ear.” (

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing—usually in one ear—either all at once or over several days. About half of people with SSHL will recover some or all of their hearing spontaneously, usually within one to two weeks from onset ( Immediate medical attention by an ENT is important if this should happen to you.

That same study out of Taiwan shows that people who suffer from migraines are twice as likely to develop SSHL.

So, is any of this preventable? The migraines and/or the hearing loss?

Maybe. As far as the migraines go, the best answer for that lies in the hands of your health care professional. When it comes to your hearing, a visit to your audiologist or hearing care professional is in order.

If you experience sudden hearing loss, you should seek treatment immediately. It may be migraine related – but it could be something else.

We’d love to help you improve your hearing and by extension, your quality of life. Give us a call and schedule an assessment today!

We can’t wait to help you gain a better hearing lifestyle. Here at Treasure Valley Hearing & Balance, we are committed to better hearing and committed to you!

Contact us today and schedule an appointment.